Betrayal (Phantom Protectors Book 2) (13 page)

BOOK: Betrayal (Phantom Protectors Book 2)
2.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

His deep chuckle filled her ears. “Well then.” He let his hands fall from around her. “We need to teach you how to use it.” His lips turned up in a grin. “Because
, baby, I can’t keep my hands off you.”

She patted his chest and stepped around him. “You have no choice unless you want us both to be homeless.”

He walked to the door. “Since the curtain is toast, why don’t you take your time and enjoy a bath?” He put his hand on the knob. “I’ll make us something to eat.”

Chapter 15



Love isn’t blind.
It isn’t kind and most of the time makes no sense at all

A thrill of frightened anticipation touched her spine as she watched Ridge in the front yard
showing her what his gift was capable of. Another limb split from a nearby tree and fell to the ground. Lust filled her body, making it almost impossible for her to concentrate as she watched the sweat on his muscles glisten under the sun’s rays. His declaration of love rocked the very foundation on which she stood. His words scared her more than anything else, including using his gift. Never before had she uttered those words to anyone besides her family. She’d given herself completely to him. He singlehandedly had the ability to crush her heart. Gracie needed to figure out how the hell to conquer Ridge’s gift so she could touch him again without burning down his house. Her hands itched to pull him close so she could feel secure in the warmth of his arms. He anchored her in ways she never managed. Gone was the flighty woman and, in her place, had emerged a woman who now had something more important than her father’s opinion of herself worth fighting for.

tried to focus as he had. She felt the energy enter her body. An unfamiliar jolt coursed through her veins making her fingers twitch. She focused on the same tree that Ridge had been slowly destroying. Pointing her fingers toward the tree she closed her eyes and tried to push the energy from her body. She heard the crack and the thump as a limb fell. Her eyes flew open and she jumped up in the air, clapping her hands; one step closer to getting her hands on the object of her desire. Ridge had spent the rest of the afternoon explaining in depth the feeling he experienced when the energy coursed through him, and he’d tried his best to explain how the hell to release it. She now had a fighting chance of getting her hands back on him. She’d always have to be conscious of what she was capable of, but that was better than not having Ridge in her life.

The muscles in his forearms bunched as he pulled her into his embrace
. “Not bad, princess.” He pressed a kiss to her neck before leading her into back into the house. “You know we can’t put it off any longer; we have to see him eventually.”

into the fridge, she grabbed two bottles of water and tossed him one. Uncapping it, Gracie gulped the water down her throat, letting it settle in the pit of her stomach along with the idea of telling her father what had happened. She glanced down at her clothes. “We need to shop first. I can’t go see him like this.”

She watched as Ridge let his gaze run down the length of her and back up. “What
? You don’t want your father to see you in my shirt?”

She placed her hands on her hips. “Get real
, Ridge. He’s already going to have a cow about everything else. You want to add what’s going on between us to the mix?” A sigh of resignation left her lips as she let her head fall forward, knowing it was something they had to do.

crooked his finger and placed it beneath her chin and lifted her gaze. “I won’t hide our relationship, please don’t ask me to.”

She lifted on her toes and kissed his cheek.
The man was more than she’d ever dreamed of, and why she hadn’t realized it before now made little sense. “I’m not asking you to, but let’s focus on one thing at a time.”

He pulled her
into his embrace. “Can’t we just pretend that no one is trying to kill you and you haven’t been molecularly enhanced? Can’t we just go back to the way things were?”

She chuckled. “You really want me to go back to pulling a gun on you when you kiss me?”

He kissed her cheek and patted her on the butt as he maneuvered around her. “Fine. Let me shower and change and then we’ll go face the music.”

Within the hour,
Gracie and Ridge made it into town and walked hand and hand down the sidewalk on Main Street. They’d already stored several shopping bags in the SUV. It was disheartening having to not only replace her entire wardrobe but also to look for another place to live while trying to refill her life with things she’d lost that held a lifetime of precious memories. She pushed the depressing thoughts aside.

They stopped
for lunch in the same diner where all of this had started months before. Glancing around the seating area, Gracie’s body became bombarded by all kinds of foreign feelings she didn’t understand. Her skin felt like it was being pricked with tiny pins. She leaned across the table. “Do you feel that?”

Ridge glanced around the room and turned back to her. “No, what is it?”

Crossing her arms, she ran her palms up and down her prickly skin, trying to dispel the goose bumps raised on her arm. “I don’t know. There’s a lot of energy in here.” She briefly closed her eyes and for the first time sensed for the energy that was nearby. “It’s different from yours, but it’s there, under the surface.”

“Gracie, you can
syphon gifts from anyone that has them. Are you telling me that there are others in here that are gifted?” Ridge glanced once again around the room and instinctively moved to sit beside her. He was putting himself between her and the rest of the room. She recognized his protective need for what it was. Normally she would have been defensive about the move, but now with the unknown looming in the air, she slid closer to his side and kissed his cheek. “I can’t explain it. It’s different but I don’t think it’s threatening. I’m sure we’re fine.”

He threw his arm around her shoulder and leaned back in the seat. He kissed the top of her head. “I’m sure you’re right, but if not, try not to take my energy. I’ll deal with any problems.” He kissed her head again. “You just sit back and relax.”

She sighed and lifted her coffee to her lips. “I’m nervous about going to the base. Almost everyone there is gifted. What if they get mad if I accidently tap into their energy when I don’t realize I’m doing it…kind of like I did with you?”

He ran the pad of his thumb
up and down her arm. “Thompson will be there to help you, and so will I.”

She felt like a thief,
albeit it was out of her control. Taking things without being able to stop herself made an uneasiness settle over her, and the butterflies in her stomach worked into a frenzy. “There’s no time like the present.”

He slid from the booth and threw bill
s down on the table. He held out his hand to help her like a true gentleman. The ride to the compound was uneventful and surprisingly short. She’d had time to think while on the way, and her mind was running in so many directions, but she still didn’t know what to do.

He held the door to the base
open as she passed. He walked beside her with his palm resting securely on her back. Jonah glanced up quickly and rose from his seat, tripping over cords around his desk. “We weren’t expecting you.”

Gracie held up her thumb and pointed to her
father’s office. “We’re just here to see Dad.”

“He’s in a meeting.” Jonah moved to the conference room door and placed his hands on the frame blocking their entrance. Gracie exchanged a
look with Ridge. They were both confused by Jonah’s uncharacteristic move.

Resting her palm on Jonah’s chest
, she said, “I’m sorry, Jonah. This can’t wait.”

Jonah reached for Gracie’s arm
, stopping her from entering. “You’re going to have to wait, Gracie.”

She glanced over her should
er to Ridge. His face hardened and was unreadable. His brows dipped. “If you don’t move your hands, Jonah, I’ll fry all of your electrical equipment.”

Jonah lifted his hands and held his palms out. “Sorry. Still doesn’t change the fact you can’t go in there.”

Gracie elbowed Jonah in the ribs and pushed the door open. The people she expected to be in the room weren’t. Well, at least not all of them. The General sat at the head of the table with Brody, Thompson, Briggs, and his wife, Jamie, on one side. On the other side sat Ethan, Tara, Cathy, and Thompson’s wife, Lydia, the resident fortuneteller. This was so not what she expected. Her hand flew to her stomach to stop the butterflies going rampant as she stepped inside the room. Tara’s and Cathy’s eyes widened as they tried to stand. Ethan held out his hand to stay their motion. The energy in the room almost suffocated her, compounded with the feeling of betrayal from the people she trusted most in the world. She stepped to the empty end of the table. “Hope we’re not late.”

Lydia stood. “Right on time, actually.”

Gracie raised her brow. “Is that so?”

Ridge pulled out
a chair, and she slid into it. He took a seat next to her. “What did we miss?” He held Brody’s gaze, not breaking the staring contest until Lydia spoke again.

I’m sorry, Gracie, but I had a vision. I saw what happened to your house, and I know what Adam did to you.”

Gracie crossed her arms over her chest. “Lydia, I appreciate that you tried to help, but it was my sto
ry to tell.” She narrowed her eyes. “Don’t you think?”

Gracie concentrated on her breathing like Ridge had taught her. There w
ere too many powers in this room. She could tap into any, and that might harm them. There was too much of a chance that she couldn’t control it. She let out a deep breath as Ridge grabbed her hand under the table, giving it a subtle squeeze

“There was more to my vision than just that.”
Lydia’s cheeks reddened and Gracie’s eyes grew wide as Ridge gripped her hand tighter. Lydia lifted a hand to cover her heart and shook her head vigorously back and forth. “Everyone in this room was in the vision.” Lydia glanced to her husband, and he nodded. “Everyone here will be in the epic final battle against the monster that’s controlling the other gifted people under his command.”

The red in Lydia’s cheeks moved down her neck
as she waved her hand. “I’m getting ahead of myself.” She sat back down and held Gracie’s gaze. “You need training.” She turned to Cathy and Tara. “And so do they. We’ve only got a few months to prepare, and we’re going to need all the time we can get.”

The General leaned back in his chair and regarded Gracie’s best friends before turning to Lydia. “I’
m not even sure they should be here. They’re Gracie’s best friends from college.”

“They weren’t even enrolled until after Adam left. They don’t even know him.” Gracie argued.

Lydia glanced between Brody and Ethan before meeting the General’s questioning stare. “They’re gifted just like the rest of us.”

Gracie pushed from her chair and planted her hands on the table as she glared at Lydia. “You
r visions are subjective, Lydia. Tara and Cathy have lives away from here.” She looked at her friends. “Lives that they need to get back to.”

Her fingers twitched and she could feel the electricity running through them. The need to pull it in and let it ripple from her body, threatened everyone in the room. She had no outlet. No tree to disintegrate.
Ridge stood next to her, leaned over, and whispered, “Calm down.”

She glanced at him and narrowed her eyes
as the energy in the room licked her skin like a fine caress. She felt the heat rising to her cheeks. Not embarrassment, no, this was a feeling she knew well. This was anger in its purest form.  “I will not calm down. There is no reason that Tara and Cathy need to put themselves in danger, even if they are gifted.”

table shook with the force of an earthquake as everyone scrambled out of their chairs. The table rose from the ground and hovered in the air.

“What the hell?” The General stepped back from the table.

Gracie felt Ridge’s arms wrap around her waist before he pulled her into his arms and planted his lips on hers, kissing her until she surrendered, leaning into his arms and smothering the anger about to break free. The table slammed down on the floor with a bang. Ridge broke the kiss and leaned his forehead against hers. “That was a taste of Brody’s gift. Gracie, you have to be more careful.”

Gracie’s eyes
widened, and she turned back to everyone in the room. Her hand went to her heart. “I’m sorry.” Her eyes pleaded with Brody. “I don’t know how to control it. I would have never used your gift without permission.”

He rounded the table and threw his arm over her shoulder. “It’s okay
you didn’t hurt me. It just made me tired. It felt like I just got finished running a marathon. You’re practically like a sister now.” He glanced over her head and winked at Ridge. “Welcome to the family.”

She elbowed him in the ribs and turned to
her father’s disapproving glare. Without a word, he passed them on his way to the door. His knuckles turned white as he gripped the handle, the harsh lines of his face hardening before he barked, “Ridge, in my office, now.” 

Gracie took Ridge’s hand. “Let me go with you.”

He shook his head. “Gracie, this is something I have to do. It’s what I should have done a long time ago.” He placed a quick kiss to her forehead and quickly followed after her father.

Lydia stopped in front of her
with Thompson by her side. “Gracie…”

Gracie gave a sad smile. “I know. You meant well.”

Thompson nodded. “I’ve just about got this gift figured out now. I’ll teach you everything I know. Even how to block it.”

BOOK: Betrayal (Phantom Protectors Book 2)
2.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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